MUSIC of the Volga Germans
Perhaps the greatest cultural interest of our forefathers in Russia, was the singing and playing of their music. Whether it be church music, folksongs or dance music this has been a popular tradition which was brought over from Germany into Russia, to the United States and Canada and especially in South America.
Today we can say that much progress is being made in the collection and preservation of the songs and music of our forefathers.
The colonists sang religious songs, songs of joy and sorrow, songs of love and marriage, war and soldier songs, songs of their homeland, farewell songs, drinking songs, and songs of death. Today, we are able to trace some of these old ballads and Love songs to the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of the songs were written in Russian to records an important event or happening. Others were written in the United States, South America and Canada after they arrived here.
Most ethnic groups have preserved their history in their songs. This is very true of the "Germans from Russia."
Because the songs were sung by the oral tradition, many melodies and words were changed. As many as 6 different versions of a song can be found today. If musical instruments were used to accompany the singers, the violin, accordian, and dulcimer or "Hackbrett: were used. The dulcimer was also called a "Zimbal". A number of fine woman singers could be found in the colonies as well.
Ellis County, Kansas was well know for many out standing church choirs and bands. In 1956 the late Nick J. Pfannenstiel and Lawrence Weigel, both from Ellis County, compiled a booklet consisting of approximately 200 Volga German folk songs which have been brought to America by our forefathers in 1876.
Since thenm another 100 songs have been added to the collection, making a total of 300. When they began collecting the songs, the only printed books that were available were "Der Geistliche Halszierde" a Catholic prayer/hymn book published in 1846. The other book "Katholishes Gesang und Gebet-Buch by B. H. F. Hellebusch" printed in 1858 contained many of the religious songs that were sung in Ellis County. All the non-religious songs that were available at the time were carried to this country by oral tradition.
The purpose of this page to collect these songs and make them available and well as sources. If you have any that you would liek to see posted here please "Contact Me." As the lists grows I will add pages for each section
St. Catherine Choir, Catharine, Ks - 1908
The Ellis County Volga German Mens Choir
1985 - until about mid 1990's.
Those belonging to the choir at that time were:
Front Row L-R: Edwin Pfannenstiel, Walter Urban,
Ken Giebler, Virgil Quint, Harold Giebler, Larry Werth,
Back Row L-R: Celly Sauer, Francis "Giebe" Giebler,
Jim Giebler, LeRoy Herrman, Earl Befort, Ed Prewo,
Organist: Kevin Rupp
Braut Lied - Sheet Music
Photos of the book that was made by Nick J. Pfannenstiel and Lawrence A. Weigel in 1956.